Charles Nevin: Mists and mellow emoticons

Start the week... Saturday is the 1,243rd anniversary of the death of Pepin the Short
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The Independent Online

Happy Monday. Today, in 1819, Keats wrote "Ode to Autumn"; in 1876, Melville R Bissell patented his carpet sweeper; and in 1982, Scott Fahlman, an American computer scientist, posted the first smiley and frown emoticons online. Progress, eh? Some people are a bit sniffy about emoticons, believing that we should all be capable of conveying our meaning – ironic, facetious and otherwise – without such brisk unsubtleties; they should know that Nabokov was in favour of such a device. And just take a look at what they can do for the Keats classic: "Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!:) :( ". Or "Where are the songs of Spring? :( Ay, where are they? :( Think not of them, thou hast thy music too :)". Excellent. And Virgil died this week 2,030 years ago, too, as it happens :(

I'm disappointed at this flak for sell-by dates. I like labels. We need more of them, not fewer, as they save trouble, time and make for clarity. I find these on my lapel most helpful when out socially or whatever: 1. "Good for five minutes on weather". 2. "Struggles after three minutes on economy." 3. "Simmers for six minutes on global warming". 4. "Actually, I like Julian Fellowes". 5. "Don't talk to me about schools!" 6. "Sophie, I'd like to help with the shed, but I'm a bit short currently." 7. "Goodness, is that the time?". 8. "Redacted". 9. :) 10. : (

Saturday is the 1,243rd anniversary of the death of Pepin the Short, first King of the Franks. I should advise against any theory that the French have a propensity for small leaders. Napoleon was, in fact, 5ft 7in tall and, in the case of Pepin, there is disagreement over whether the sobriquet refers to his height, his curtness, the length of his hair, or possibly all three. He was, though, the first person in Europe to own an organ, a gift from the Emperor of Byzantium. Our shortest king was Charles I, only a touch over 5ft, even with his head :(

In other news, the British grape harvest is early, a former wrestler in West Bromwich is coming out of retirement at the age of 82, a street performer who headbutted a policeman while dressed as the Queen faces jail, and another man has grown an 8kg onion, which could be very :( indeed. Happy Monday.